AM Best Upgrades Credit Ratings of SSQ, Life Insurance Company Inc.

AM Best has upgraded the Financial Strength Rating to A (Excellent) from A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating to “a” from “a-” of SSQ, Life Insurance Company Inc. (SSQ) (Quebec, Canada). The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) has been revised to stable from positive.

The ratings reflect SSQ’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorizes as very strong, as well as its strong operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management.

SSQ is primarily involved in group insurance and holds significant market share within the Quebec province. As the sixth-largest life insurer in Canada by premium volume, SSQ also offers a variety of products including group and individual insurance, property/casualty insurance, and investment and retirement products. The company’s majority shareholder, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, is the largest developmental capital network within Quebec and assisted SSQ with the acquisition of AXA Life of Canada in 2012. SSQ continues to prioritize expanding outside of Quebec, with some success over the long term.

The rating upgrades reflect SSQ’s improved risk-adjusted capitalization, decreasing financial leverage, and growth of absolute capital over the previous several years. In addition to a favorable Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR), the company also reported a robust regulatory solvency ratio through 2018 under Autorite Des Marches Financiers’s new capital regime, CARLI (capital adequacy requirements for life insurers), which took effect in Quebec on Jan. 1, 2018.

SSQ also continues to produce strong and consistent operating performance year-over-year, often posting low double-digit returns on equity. Despite some volatility in earnings by line, SSQ’s core group insurance business continues to generate favorable earnings on growing business volume, which is expected to accelerate in 2020, as the company takes on group business from the nearly 40,000 employees and retirees of HydroQuebec.

AM Best believes that SSQ will continue to support its very strong balance sheet strength over time, backed by favorable earnings and manage its concentration in Quebec, as it attempts to compete against larger more established entities throughout Canada.

This press release relates to Credit Ratings that have been published on AM Best’s website. For all rating information relating to the release and pertinent disclosures, including details of the office responsible for issuing each of the individual ratings referenced in this release, please see AM Best’s Recent Rating Activity web page. For additional information regarding the use and limitations of Credit Rating opinions, please view Understanding Best’s Credit Ratings. For information on the proper media use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best press releases, please view Guide for Media – Proper Use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best Rating Action Press Releases.

AM Best is a global credit rating agency and information provider with an exclusive focus on the insurance industry. Visit www.ambest.com for more information.

Understanding life insurance

Submitted

BC Local News

Have you ever thought of how much impact smoking has on your finances? Health Canada’s cost calculator finds that smoking half a pack a day can cost up to $2,500 per year. Meanwhile, on a nationwide scale, the Canadian Cancer Society reported that smoking generates $6.5 billion in healthcare costs yearly. And, the expenses don’t end there – not if you’re looking to get life insurance.

What does life insurance have to do with it? Your life insurance rate depends on how healthy you are right now. But it also depends on whether you’re putting your health at risk with lifestyle choices like smoking. Here’s how this costly habit can affect your life insurance premium.

How smoking can affect your life insurance premium

To start, let’s look at the basics of life insurance. You buy a policy that provides financial protection and pay for it with monthly or annual fees, called premiums. What happens if you die while the policy is still active? Your beneficiaries get a specific amount of money stated in the policy, known as the death benefit. They can then use that money to help pay off debts, mortgages, loans, and other living expenses.

Basically, life insurance can help give your family financial assistance and security after you die. So, how do insurance companies put a price on that security? A lot of the cost of life insurance depends on your current state of health and your family history. But what’s one of the biggest factors insurance companies look at when assessing your health risk? Whether or not you’re a smoker.

“The health hazards of smoking and the risks it puts on your life are well-known,” says Paula MacMillan, a financial advisor from Winnipeg.

Underwriting is when an insurance company reviews your health risks after you’ve applied for life insurance. This process lets an insurer calculate the coverage you’re eligible for. It also ensures your premium reflects the level of risk.

Simply put: Your risk level affects your premium.

“Being a smoker puts people at a higher risk of smoking-related illnesses,” Macmillan says. “And this translates to higher premiums.”

READ MORE HERE

Source: BC Local News

As Family Dynamics Change, Your Life Insurance Should, Too

As you move through your life, changes to the dynamics of your family and business life may have a direct impact on the type and amount of life insurance you need.

The term “family” has a much different meaning today than it had for previous generations. Many people from older generations grew up knowing the traditional family unit, the one where Dad was the breadwinner and Mom stayed home to raise the children. Today, shifting demographics have helped to reshape the concept of a family. Families come in many shapes and sizes, so there is no longer a single definition of what makes up one. Today you are more likely to know families that include dual-income earners, same-sex couples and blended or extended families living under one roof.

There is one thing that hasn’t changed, though: life insurance. One of the main reasons for life insurance is to provide protection for the family upon one’s death. Traditionally, the death benefit would be there to help replace the income lost, but with changing family dynamics, serving a family’s needs isn’t always so clear. While the replacement of income is important for a family, it is also important to address the role of the surviving spouse. Will he or she need to go back to work? Are there children? If so, how will they be taken care of in the short and long term? All of a family’s wants and needs can be answered with a few simple questions:

1. Do you have a will? Is it up to date?

2. Is there a trust that specifies how property is to be distributed upon death?

3. Do you have enough insurance to take care of your family after you are gone?

Family dynamics can complicate your financial planning process. Understanding these dynamics and asking the right questions is necessary when advising a family on how life insurance can be used to manage the issues they may face, all while providing much-needed protection. To ensure you get the protection you need, it is imperative that you develop a comprehensive plan to guarantee that your wishes are fulfilled. When developing that plan, it is extremely important that you choose the right person to be the executor. This should be someone you trust and who you are confident will carry out your final wishes to the letter.

Ideally, you would only need to purchase life insurance once or twice in your lifetime. But this does not mean you should just put your plan in a drawer and forget about it. You should review your policy at least once a year. The dynamics in your life change periodically, so it makes sense that your life insurance should be adjusted as your needs change. Some of the common life situations that should make you take a look at your insurance are:

1. Financial changes: Any change here, for better or worse, should result in a review of your coverage. Purchasing a home, caring for a family member and changes in employment or salary should trigger you to take another look at what you have.

2. Family changes: Since it is likely that a family member will be the beneficiary of your policies, any change to the dynamic of your family should facilitate a change in your life insurance.

3. Health changes: Your life insurance coverage is based on your health, and any significant changes will necessitate an adjustment to your policy, particularly in the case of severe illness or disability.

Life insurance is an important component in financial planning. Besides providing a death benefit for your beneficiaries and future generations, many of the options available today can address other needs like chronic illness or disability. As your life changes overtime, to possibly include marriage, having children, purchasing a home, retirement and all things in between, it is important for you to keep your family protected. You are purchasing life insurance to provide such protection, but to make sure it is adequate, you should review your coverage at every major life event, especially if the event changes the number of people depending on you or your financial security.

Source:

4 Ways to Make Life Insurance More Affordable

Maurie Backman, The Motley Fool

You’ve probably been told time and time again that you should have a life insurance policy, but if you’re like many consumers, you’ve been putting it off due to one key factor: money. It’s true that life insurance isn’t always cheap, but there are steps you can take to make it more affordable. Here are a few to begin with.

1. Get a term policy

You have two primary options for buying life insurance: permanent life insurance and term life insurance. With the former, you’re covered forever, and your policy accumulates a cash value that can serve as an income source for you when you need it. With the latter, you’re only covered for a specific period of time (hence the name “term”), and once your policy runs out, you get nothing. You also don’t accumulate a cash value with a term life policy. That said, term life insurance is generally a lot cheaper than permanent insurance, since you forgo the benefit of cash value and indefinite coverage, so if cost is a concern, it pays to look into term policies.

2. Apply when you’re relatively young

The younger you are when you apply for life insurance, the lower a premium rate you’ll generally snag. Many people put off life insurance until their 40s or 50s because they don’t want to start making premium payments earlier on. But by waiting that long, you risk getting slapped with a prohibitively high premium instead.

3. Get healthier

The healthier you are, the easier it becomes to snag an affordable premium rate on a life insurance policy. Therefore, if you work on improving the picture of your health, you could save a bundle. If you’re overweight, aim to shed enough pounds to get into a healthy range. If you’re underweight, do the opposite, because you will be penalized any time your weight lands in what’s considered an unhealthy range. And of course, if you’re a smoker, kick the habit — incidentally, it’ll save you money, too.

4. Buy only the coverage you need

You’ll pay more for a life insurance policy with a $2 million death benefit than you will for a policy that pays a $500,000 death benefit. If you want to keep your premiums manageable, don’t overbuy coverage.

How should you calculate your coverage level? A good way to start is to establish a benefit that’s a certain multiple of your income — say, 5 or 10 times that sum. Next, evaluate your outstanding debt, like your mortgage, and aim for enough coverage to pay it off. From there, think about financial goals you have for your family, and include enough money to pay for them (putting kids through college, for example). Finally, make sure there’s enough money in your death benefit to cover your funeral costs.

Let’s say you earn $60,000 a year and want five times that amount as a basic death benefit for a total of $300,000. Let’s also assume you want to include enough money to pay off your $100,000 mortgage, you want another $100,000 to put your child through college and another $10,000 to ensure that your funeral is taken care of. That means you’re looking at a death benefit of $510,000. If that’s the case, don’t buy a policy with a $1 million payout — you don’t need it.

You don’t need to be rich to get life insurance; you just need people in your life who stand to suffer financially in the event of your passing. If those people exist, then do some research and aim to find an affordable policy that gives your loved ones — and you — the peace of mind you all deserve.

Source: Yahoo

Canada Protection Plan Launches Express Elite Life Insurance Plan to Simplify Application Process

TORONTO — Canada Protection Plan, a leading provider of No Medical and Simplified life insurance, today announced the launch of Express Elite Term, a no-medical life insurance product. In 15 minutes or less, Canadians and newcomers with a work permit who are in excellent health and between the ages of 18-60 years can apply either by phone or online. Within a few days, they can receive coverage for up to $500,000 with no medical exams required.

“Our clients deserve to be rewarded for maintaining a well-balanced lifestyle,” said Michael Aziz, Chief Distribution Officer, Canada Protection Plan. “We developed Express Elite because we recognize that while life insurance is an important part of financial planning, time is in short supply for many Canadians. As consumer tastes change, we’re developing innovative insurance solutions that fit with the desire for a simple, fast, and convenient experience.”

Payments begin in the second month on a monthly payment system. In addition to offering $100,000 to $500,000 in coverage, Express Elite offers 20-year and 30-year terms as well as complimentary benefits including emergency financial assistance programs and scholarships. The policy is also renewable up to age 80 and convertible to age 70.

Express Elite is available through more than 23,000 licensed advisors across the country, or with Canada Protection Plan (www.cpp.ca) at 1-877-447-6060.

About Canada Protection Plan
Canada Protection Plan, one of Canada’s leading providers of No Medical and Simplified Issue life insurance, is a Canadian owned and operated corporation that designs, markets and sells life insurance and related products with simplified underwriting processes that require no medical exams on many of their plans. The company is dedicated to providing life insurance protection against unexpected events at a competitive price by offering numerous product choices and purchase options, making insurance coverage easily obtainable.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190529005072/en/

Foresters Financial bolsters its leadership as it refocuses on life insurance

Foresters Financial™ today announces the further bolstering of its senior leadership team with the appointment of its new Chief Operating Officer, Bruce Hodges, as the organization repositions itself to focus on its core life insurance business.

Joining recent appointments Marcia Mendes d’Abreu, Chief Human Resources Officer; Alvin Sharma, Global Chief Financial Officer; and David Longfritz, Chief Marketing Officer, Bruce rounds out the leadership team at this unique life insurer whose mission is to give back to the communities in which its clients live.

Bruce comes to Foresters at a transformative time following the organization’s April announcement to sell assets related to its U.S. asset management business.

With 30 years of financial services, insurance and IT expertise, Bruce has leadership and international experience at Generali, ING, Manulife Financial and Sun Life Financial that spans markets including North America, Europe and Asia.

Under the direction of Foresters President and CEO, Jim Boyle (formerly John Hancock CEO and a member of Manulife’s Executive team), this purpose-driven organization continues to build off successive years of record sales, positioning Foresters for long-term growth and success.

About Foresters Financial
Since 1874, Foresters Financial has been providing socially responsible financial services to individuals and families. Foresters Financial includes The Independent Order of Foresters, the oldest non-denominational fraternal benefit society. Foresters is a purpose-driven organization that exists to enrich family and community well-being and offers insurance products to over three million members and clients in Canada, the US and the U.K. For 18 straight years, The Independent Order of Foresters has received an “A” (Excellent) rating from A.M. Best.1 For more information please visit foresters.com

1. The A.M. Best rating assigned on August 2, 2018 reflects the overall strength and claims-paying ability of The Independent Order of Foresters (IOF) but does not apply to the performance of any non-IOF issued products. An “A” (Excellent) rating is assigned to companies that have a strong ability to meet their ongoing obligations to policyholders and have, on balance, excellent balance sheet strength, operating performance and business profile when compared to the standards established by A.M. Best Company. A.M. Best assigns ratings from A++ to F, A++ and A+ being superior ratings and A and A- being excellent ratings. See ambest.com for our latest rating.

SOURCE Foresters Financial

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